He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks
-Sun Tzu (The Art of War)
I would rather command a company of Marines than a brigade of volunteers.
– Capt. John R.F. Tattnal
I’ve spent the last 7 months actively nurturing a community of greeting card artists into existence. Despite my “go big” entrepreneur mentality, it is clear to me now that going slower and developing a small highly-motivated core group of users was vital. Swinging for the fences right away and having a massive but uninterested user base shouldn’t be considered a success. The slow growth has allowed us to work with them personally and has endeared them to our cause. They tell their friends to buy from us, they actively recruit their favorite artists for us and they help each other through issues instead of requesting support.
The word of mouth that these users generate is incredible. A full 25% of all our traffic is new direct visits (people typing CardGnome.com into their browser after they are told about us) and 95% of our new artist acceptance has come from word-of-mouth referrals. They are starting to cost us less to support because they take the time to know the system better, and because they ask each other for support on our forums instead of emailing us.
They spend more, they cost us less to support, they recruit artists and they find us new customers. I don’t just view this in terms of economics, but they lower our cost of customer acquisition and increase our average lifetime value. If you are just starting, focus on making a few users extremely happy instead of spending money to acquire uninterested ones.
Until I met Dre, the only one to look past, gave me a chance,
and I lit a fire up under his ass, helped him get back to the top,
every fan black that I got, was probably his in exchange
for every white fan that he’s got, like damn, we just swapped.
– Eminem (White America)
Over the past year I’ve started to really take an interest in the strategies companies use to distribute their product. One of my favorites is a sub-set of co-promotion that I’ll call the “Network of networks” strategy whereby a single product brings together a couple small but passionate groups. Rappers do this extremely well by featuring many artists into each song. Each artist comes with their own small but passionate group. Each group is strong within its own social network, but nothing on a macro-level, when they come together they can bring a product to its tipping point.
“Social” startups are trying to take advantage of this and are starting to make it work. This or That, for instance, runs contests where one networked group competes against another networked group. Each group feels compelled to mobilize their group to get votes and thus build a user base for the company.
The next time you sit down to think about your own strategy, think about how you can build this network effect into the model.
Looking for an AWESOME Christmas card and waiting until the last minute? You still have time to order one of our independent artist created greeting cards and have it delivered before Christmas! Just order by Sunday, December 19.
Want to hand deliver the card with that special present? No problem… just select “send to myself” when you’re personalizing your card and we’ll deliver it to you with an extra envelope. Or you can have us deliver the card directly to your loved one… and as always, shipping is free!
View all of our Christmas cards at http://www.cardgnome.com/holidays/christmas
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